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NPD: Retailers Still Aspirational but Consumers Have Moved On

A key reason for the stagnant growth in retail is that stores are still trying to work in an aspirational way long after consumers have ditched their pre-recession values to become more experiential.

That was the takeaway from a presentation by NPD chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen at last month’s Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas.

In a session titled, “Data that Demonstrates How the Aspirational Purchase Has Shifted,” Cohen said traditional retail has stopped growing mainly because it’s built on an old model.

“Before the recession, we would covet all these great items,” he told the standing-room-only crowd at the Aria hotel. “Women were out there buying three-, four- and five-hundred dollar handbags.”

He was referring, of course, to the practice of spending disproportionately to income in order to appear affluent. Consumers back then were in a dress rehearsal for the day they would be able to afford luxury goods. And why not? Leading up to the recession, money—and credit—were easy to come by. Shopping became the way that consumers played out their dreams, not necessarily their reality.

Read more at Sourcing Journal.